WASHINGTON — A key House member laid out his priorities for NASA and the civilian space activities he says are necessary to participate in a new “space race” with China.

Speaking at the International Conference on Space Station Research and Development on July 27, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) explained how he thinks NASA, working with other agencies and the private sector, should work together to ensure US preeminence in space as China grows. his abilities.

“Today’s space race is not like the one we faced with the Soviets. It’s actually arguable that today’s space race has a lot more at stake,” he said, citing China’s moon and Mars missions and the development of a space station as evidence of ambitions. of China in space.

“In this new era where the United States is challenged across all sectors, our American space enterprise cannot afford to lose focus or momentum,” he said. “Therefore, to ensure that the United States remains the world’s space power, we must commit to a principled set of pillars.”

These pillars, which he outlined in his speech and in a separate document, call American space leadership, permanence, harmony, security and support. He also discussed 11 “critical markers” he expected the United States to achieve in space by the end of the decade.

While any of these markers maintain a human presence in low Earth orbit while establishing a “continuous” one on the moon, most involve policy, infrastructure or other institutional matters. They included expanded cooperation with allies, establishment of rules and standards of behavior in space, and roles for the National Space Council and Office of Space Commerce in policy coordination and regulation, respectively. .

Another element of his plan was a call for “greater cohesion” between NASA and the Department of Defense. “We’re making sure we can easily leverage NASA resources for space security, as well as Department of Defense resources for NASA development,” he said, citing an example of the potential former applications of NASA. national security of the space launch system.

Although Aderholt has long been a major supporter of SLS, he also hailed the efforts of companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX that had been seen as rivals or even threats to traditional space companies and programs. “We have to recognize the changing landscape of the industry,” he said. “The days of ‘New Space’ and ‘Old Space’ vying for relevance in separate ways are over. In this new era, we only have American space.

Aderholt’s proposal also included a call to “contain Chinese space ambitions”, which raised some eyebrows. “The obvious threat posed by the Chinese regime must be taken very seriously,” he said, but he focused on allegations of Chinese espionage and illegal technology transfers from US industry rather than on Chinese space activities themselves.

He focused primarily on perceived threats from China, but also touched on concerns about Russia, calling for a “serious discussion about the future of US-Russian relations in space.” Russian statements on July 26 that they would leave the ISS sometime after 2024, even as the United States and other partners work to expand the station through 2030, “only reinforce the narrative that Russia is an erratic partner”.

He noted that he included in the House version a Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) spending bill for fiscal year 2023 that would restrict NASA’s ability to cooperate with Russia on programs other than the ISS. In practice, there is now little or no such cooperation, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Aderholt, in his speech or in the accompanying document, did not provide any specific plan or level of funding to achieve these goals. However, he is able to make headway on them as a prominent member of the CJS House Appropriations subcommittee. With Republicans widely expected to take control of the House after the 2022 election, he would be in line to chair the subcommittee. It comes as other influential members of Congress on space issues, including Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will retire after this year.

“It will be a top priority for me to help harness the power of the stock market to support these companies,” he said, calling on fellow members to “provide all necessary resources and guidance” to the agency. spatial. “The United States Congress must be an arsenal of support in space.”